By Spy Uganda Correspondent
A court in Rwanda sentenced a Chinese businessman to 20 years in prison for torture after he was filmed beating a local man last year.
Sun Shujun, the manager of a mine in the west of the country, had been accused of beating his workers in a case that drew attention because he was filmed whipping a man tethered to a pole on the ground.
Judge Jacques Kanyarukiga said it was clear that Sun “tortured the victims and issued corporal punishment with malicious intent, and this is a grave crime”.
A Rwandan man, Renzaho Alexis, was sentenced to 12 years for his alleged role as an accomplice in the beatings.
Sun, who was in court for the verdict, acknowledged assaulting two workers, saying he beat them because he was “frustrated and fed up of them constantly stealing minerals”.
The 43-year-old had argued for his release, saying he had compensated the two by paying a total of more than 1 million Rwandan francs (about US$1,000) and signing a “reconciliation letter”.
However, the prosecution – which had accused him of assaulting four people – argued that the victims had accepted the payments “because they were traumatized and afraid of him”.
A 45-second clip of one incident was widely shared online last year, showing a visibly enraged Chinese man using a rope to flog a man huddled on the ground and tied to a pole, as a small group of people in orange jackets looked on.
The mine produces cassiterite, a mineral that is the main ore of tin.
The Chinese embassy in Rwanda acknowledged Tuesday’s verdict in a statement on Wednesday urging Chinese citizens living in Rwanda to abide by local laws.
“Meanwhile, the embassy calls for the case to be handled appropriately in a rational, fair, and just manner and requests the legitimate rights of the Chinese citizens to be properly protected,” the statement said.